In our latest column, "Ask a Fashionista," you can solicit our strongly held opinions on everything from how to wear a midi skirt without looking like a tree stump to whether a certain retail CEO should go ahead and resign already.
Q: I love to buy pretty lingerie, and I've built up a pretty great collection of pieces, but I'm tired of only wearing them around the house. How can I style my outfits to make them appropriate without feeling too exposed? —Tanya, Los Angeles, CA
A: When you're investing money in any article of clothing, you want to feel like you're getting the most bang for your buck – erm, pardon the expression. So we totally get that you want to take your pretty lingerie out of the bedroom.
We hopped on the phone with stylist Sally Lyndley for her take on how to wear the less practical things under your everyday clothes. In terms of brands, Lyndley loves classics like Agent Provocateur and La Perla, but she's also a huge fan of Deborah Marquit. If you're on a budget, Victoria's Secret has some good options as well.
Now, for the styling bit, let's start it off easy: showing off your pretty bras. Your instinct might tell you to wear lacy bras under knits, but Lyndley says that will just cause friction – no good. Instead, she says, go the exhibitionist route. Paired with a menswear-inspired shirt or a loose dress, a lacy bra or bralette adds sex appeal to an otherwise plain outfit.
"When I'm wearing my Agent Provocateur or my La Perla [bras], I like to do it with a button down shirt," Lyndley explained. "I also like to wear them with my tank tops, because I have a lot of loose tank tops from Alexander Wang or American Apparel, and I like those with my super fancy lacy bras because then it's OK for my bra to show."
When it comes to your corsets or bodysuits, Lyndley likes to style those where you can see them too. Again, the most important trick is to pair it with items that play down its sexiness. "I have an Agent Provocateur corset, and I'll throw it on with a black skinny jean to make it super sexy and wear it with a blazer on top," she says.
Finally, it is possible to show off your garter belts and thigh highs without going too far. For Lyndley, if you're going to do a thigh high, might as well make it a fishnet or a back seamed version. "I've done it inspired by Carine Roitfeld," Lyndley says. "I like a garter belt underneath a pencil skirt where there's a slit and you can see a hint of it, where it looks like maybe you're just wearing a pair of beautiful tights."
It might go without saying, but this isn't one for professional settings. "I wore [a garter belt] once for a business conference and it felt so inappropriate, it was awful," Lyndley says with a laugh. "If you're going out to get laid, it's good!"